“He’s doesn’t have the design skills that I do,” she tells me, “he’d be lost if I moved on.”
I look at my colleague, and smile, waiting for a self deprecating comment to follow. It doesn’t come. I wait a little longer, then have to blink. A woman who knows her worth, and isn’t afraid to speak it? Oh my, this wouldn’t happen in Britain.
The more Australian women I spend time with, the more familiar this confidence becomes. A self-belief that’s rooted deep and a voice that wears it out loud.
I dream about being this sassy, I really do. I fall asleep thinking how I’ll confront a colleague who’s shown me disrespect or stand up to a stranger that’s just ridiculed someone. And then I jolt awake in a sweat, worried I’ve overstepped the boundary between confidence and arrogance – a perpetual concern for every Brit.
Australian women are amazing in many ways, and they’re teaching me a thing or two.
They’re hard to crack
I’m pretty darn happy to say I now have an Aussie lass as a friend, perhaps even two. But it’s taken a year in Australia, and a lot of knock backs.
Women in Melbourne are tight. Not with their pennies, but in their friendship circles. They’ve got buddies they hang with, and they’re fiercely loyal to them. These friendships go back years, and they don’t seem to have a need, or desire, to grow new ones.
So, for my first ten or so months in Melbourne I’ve been happily hanging with the guys and ex-pat ladies. It’s been great, but I’ve been disappointed not to be nurturing a friendship with a local lass. I mean, why move to the other side of the world and mix with just half the demographic?
Gender roles are distinctive world over, and us British are no strangers to what constitutes male, female, or a mix of the two. Australian women combine self-assured confidence with a distinctively feminine demeanour. Very well.
Bold dresses, individual elegance and strong voice mix with an easy acceptance of male chivalry and traditional gender roles. The men, of course, help bring this about and, somehow, it works. Men will be men, women will be women, and both will be feisty.
They’ve got an easy beauty about them
The kick arse women here have a very ‘natural look’. Eyelashes caked in mascara? Haven’t seen them. Eyebrows plucked to a millimetre of their life? Nope. Foundation that needs a trowel to excavate? Not here. Make up’s been created to disappear into a subtle and sparkling kiss from the midday sun.
They’re happy to sweat
The world knows there’s no female sports team as sexy as Australian volleyball champs, and, yes, they look a million dollars in their work out kit. And I’m not referring to ‘Active Wear’, I’m talking Aussie ladies running on the beach, sweating in a vinyasa class, or lapping the lads in the pool. They dress for action and they look hot.
They recognise the importance of detail
It’s rare a lass in Melbourne will say, “let’s meet for a drink,” or “why don’t we go for a walk on Saturday?” There’s a assumption that you need detail and, it’s better to drill into it from the outset.
Conversations usually go along the lines of, “let’s meet for a wine, perhaps in that wine bar on the corner of Chapel and High Street, the one that has a great selection from the Mornington Peninsula and a live band on Thursdays.”
You get the picture? Does it sound good? If it doesn’t, you get to change the idea before it’s even born. And then, details exhausted, it’s locked in.
You know where you stand
My last homage to the lass from down under is the way she gets straight to the point. Yes, pragmatism can hurt, but, at least you know where you stand.
“Pull yourself together, girl,” I’m told, “move on, grow some backbone, you can do better. And let’s start by sorting out that disaster of an outfit.”
There’s piss all beating around the bush over here. The bush is thrown right in your face.
So, ladies, Australian ladies, you get my vote. You’re confident, loyal, active and sassy. But, maybe, just maybe, you have one flaw – you’re short on international buddies.
Rest assured there’s a knat’s chance in hell we’ll cramp your style, but we do have stories that’ll turn a single origin Sunday coffee into a 10km walk and flagon o’wine. (Oh, and that’s a walk along the stretch of beach that takes you from the kite surfers to the rockpool with starfishes in it and the wine is a good pinot noir, from the winery with the sculptures and olive tasting, an hour’s drive from the centre of town.)
So, go on, give us a try.